LA MIRADA, CALIF. --- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to eliminate Cal Grant funds for students seeking higher education may assist in decreasing California’s debt now, however, this will result in hindering many students from furthering their education beyond high school. This could inadvertently lead to debt of a different form — .  Approximately 280,798 students are expected to receive Cal Grant funds for college in the 2009-10 school year. 

Many Biola University students rely on Cal Grant funds to afford higher education, an education that leads them to their future.  Eliminating Cal Grants will severely affect the future of thousands of students throughout the state. On May 29, 2009, Biola’s Vice President for Enrollment Management Greg Vaughan, sent a letter to 236 Cal Grant recipients who have been admitted to Biola for the Fall 2009 semester. Vaughan updated the students on the current situation and encouraged them to send a letter to their state senator or assemblyman regarding the impact the removal of the Cal Grant fund would have on their college plans.

“This is obviously stunning news for all of us, but it is not a time to panic,” encouraged Vaughan, stating the proposal had not been adopted yet. “As an institution, Biola is working hard to lobby on your behalf, and will continue to do so.”

Although, it has been suggested that some students may need to commute or work more to afford college, students such as Daisy Bejar and Kevin Lizarraga, Cal Grant recipients who have been accepted into Biola for the Fall, will not be able to afford college without the Cal Grant funds.

Bejar, a first generation Latin American woman, is one of seven children and has managed to finish high school in three years while working two jobs, participating in track and field and leading the youth group at her church. Her mother is a cook for a “Head Start” program and her father is a housekeeper at a factory. Even with the Cal Grant, she is having difficulty affording higher education.

Lizarraga is from Imperial County, which gains it’s primary income from agriculture, and has one of the state’s lowest college-going numbers. He will be the first in his family to graduate from high school and is at the top 10 percent of his class, but cannot afford to pay for college on his own.

“We are the future of California,” said Lizarraga, who believes the elimination of Cal Grants will create an enormous pool of unemployed high school graduates due to the recession as well as discourage other students from graduating from high school. Lizarraga is an exemplary student and citizen of his county.

Biola is considering how the university can assist students financially if this proposed cut, or reduction of aid is ultimately implemented.

Press release forthcoming. Bejar and Lizarraga are open for interviews. For interviews with the students, please contact Jenna Bartlo, Biola University Media Relations Coordinator, at 562.777.4061.